Letters to the Editor

‘Tech’ Should Conduct Surveys on Other Subjects, Too

This past Friday, I came up to Cambridge from New York City to visit the MIT Museum, which I had read about some years ago. It was quite interesting to see your University’s process of founding laboratories to focus on new scientific themes, answer challenging questions and develop new technologies (as described by some of the exhibits).

While at the Museum, I picked up the Friday, October 30 issue of The Tech and found your comprehensive set of articles and statistical analysis about “Sex @ MIT.” I found your presentation of statistics in the centerfold of your survey convenient, comprehensive, and informative.

I hope this same survey will be run every 2 or 3 years to reveal changes and consistencies. I also think, following the example of your academic area labs, your newspaper should “package” this survey project. And assuming MIT has done a better job at this than other schools would be able to, offer it to other colleges and universities around the country, for their students’ own information and for comparison sake — then come up with some kind of “meta survey.”

Sex among student peers is a university student’s logical interest, curiosity, and their own personal business.

As a 60 year old, there is another survey that I think would be at least as worthwhile, and could use the same Tech survey “infrastructure” and tools. That survey would be about how students, faculty et al., at MIT are communicating within and outside MIT these days; how many are using (or avoiding) which new technologies, (cell) phones, texting, e-mails, and how much (quantified) communication is being done, or being “imposed” by the outside. Frequency and time spent in the process would be some interesting measures to make. This would also be the kind of survey that should be made every 2 years or so.

My desire to know this kind of information was inspired by such quite recent general trade books as John Freeman’s The Tyranny of Email — the Four Thousand Year Journey to your In Box, and Naomi Baron’s Always On, Language in an Online and Mobile World. MIT’s student body practices and tolerances as smart engineering students might serve as some guidance in how to keep this technology area manageable and under control as mass society’s servant rather than its master. At this point, I think members of the non-university community just want more data that another MIT Tech survey might supply.

‘Tech’ Sex Section Treated Subject Inappropriately

Since I arrived here in August I have been on a perpetual I-love-MIT high. I forked out some of my summer savings to buy a school sweatshirt, which I have worn with pride — and occasional dances of joy — every time the weather permitted. After I heard about The Tech’s Friday, Oct. 30th issue on sex, however, I wanted to go home and burn that sweatshirt.

The Tech’s shameless and tasteless treatment of sex horrified me. To me, it sent a clear message: I and the students like me, who consider our sexuality a gift to be cherished, have no place in the MIT community. Articles like Ryan Normandin’s opinion piece floored me by concluding (I hope with a strong dose of irony I did not catch) that we haven’t prostituted ourselves out yet because we can’t find the time. The MIT “hose” may be turned on high, but scoffing at the time-management skills of the 42 percent of undergraduate students The Tech surveyed who consider themselves virgins is arrogant and insulting.

A true discussion of sex needs to do more than print color photos of naked students. Sex is a profound physical and spiritual experience, with intrinsic unifying and procreative consequences. To divide sexuality into pieces, pick up the pleasure piece, and declare that it is the only piece that matters denies the very nature of sexuality and refashions it into something nonsensical. It cripples sexuality and distorts its wonders into inconveniences and its pleasures into something to be doled out like Halloween candy.

The most frustrating thing about The Tech’s sex issue is that, in talking to fellow students who feel as offended and ostracized as I do, I find many of them just don’t know what to say. Believing their voices carry no weight anyway, they are choosing to remain silent. I cannot do that. Perhaps my voice means nothing, but I am truly ashamed of The Tech. I regret I lived to see the day when the greatest minds of our generation have been reduced to bonobos.

Pumpkin Drop Disappointment

Dear First West of East Campus residents,

Why does it take so long to throw pumpkins off a building? You never start at 11:59 and if it’s anything more than just one pumpkin it takes about 5 minutes. Seriously? What’s so hard about throwing pumpkins off a roof? How long have you been doing the pumpkin drop? If it’s so hard to lift the pumpkins and push them off a ledge why haven’t you made a conveyor belt or catapult or something? I appreciate the pumpkin drop but you guys do an apparently crappy job. I think you can do better. East Campus designs and builds a roller coaster for rush every year and has to deal with unforseen problems in the implementations of it. Yet every year it’s awesome. You do the same thing every year and every year it sucks. Correct me if I’m wrong in my assumption that throwing pumpkins off a roof is easy.

Where Are the Responsible Voters?

In her letter dated Tuesday, November 3rd, Rachel Sealfon G suggested that she and other MIT students are too busy to properly research the candidates up for local election before voting. If students are voting without researching their decisions, this is certainly a problem. However the solution will not come from a group of partisans recommending or endorsing candidates on the basis of nonsense such as how “interesting” the candidates are, where they were born, race, gender, or sexual orientation.

When the founding fathers designed our constitutional republic they recognized the danger of an ill-informed electorate empowering officials within government. To put individuals into a position of power without proper scrutiny from the people would result in a loss of liberty. Thomas Jefferson said it best: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

MIT students and all members of the electorate have the responsibility to be informed and knowledgeable about the matters on which they decide. The decisions made by the officials elected Tuesday will affect the lives of every Cambridge resident, and those effects on our lives should guide our decisions.

Depending on the outcome of our local elections, rents may rise as property taxes levied by the city increase. Prices of food may increase even in the middle of a recession as the city increases the permit fees charged to local restaurants and grocers. You may be charged more for parking, targeted in speed traps, given more parking tickets, or ticketed for riding your bike improperly as the city sends forth swarms of officers to harass us and eat out our substance. Much of this has already happened. Cambridge has bills to pay and we are the cash cow.

As the city borrows more money to pay for things that make us happy (and encourage votes for incumbent candidates), Cambridge residents will pay the price in the form of higher interest payments to Wall Street for which a sum of more than $12 million has been budgeted by the city for the 2009–2010 fiscal year.

This pattern of encroachment on our economic liberty at the local and national level will all end if we make our decisions based on a responsible use of reason rather than phony political fluff. Without this responsible electorate economic reality will eventually bring this unsustainable political and financial system to an end, and that will be extremely unpleasant for everyone.